In this age of debt ceilings and fiscal cliffs, some people aren't too happy that the Navy is spending $27 a gallon on biofuels for its diesel warships. That was the estimated cost of the biodiesel blend the Navy used back in August of 2012 to fuel some of its Pacific Rim ships out on manuevers. The total cost for the exercise was $12 million. And while some would argue $12 million is only a tiny slice of $600+ billion budget for the entire military, many people (including politicians in Congress) aren't very pleased that the Navy spent $12 million on fuel when they could have gotten the job done for less than $2 million.
The Navy's justification for the extra spending is that its part of a larger pilot program that apportioned about $500 million over three years to study way to transition the military into being more "green". That's an admirable goal that many people think is a good idea. But others criticize the extra spending because it comes at a time when the military and the country as a whole are cutting back on spending out of necessity. Those people argue that the military doesn't have enough money to buy all the equipment it needs, so spending extra money on biodiesel for warships does not seem like a wise move.
Supporters counter this criticism by bring back the staple argument that the benefits of using more biodiesel outweight extra costs because it helps accomplish the broader goal of weaning us off foreign oil. And maybe there's an element of truth to that. But the general public buys that truth less when they learn about times when the Pentagon pays $400 a gallon to buy experimental biodiesel made from algae.
This post was published on March 15, 2013 and was updated on November 19, 2013.